2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Hoke wants to honor Coryell

    Tue, July 27, 2010 by admin with no comments

    San Diego State coach Brady Hoke mentioned the July 1 death of legendary coach Don Coryell during his remarks on Tuesday.

    The man whose “Air Coryell” offenses were instrumental in the development of the modern passing game coached at San Diego State from 1961 to 1972, going 104-19-2 in that time.

    “The legacy that coach Coryell had at San Diego State – and still has, obviously – is something that as a football program we’re going to be very, very accountable to,” Hoke said. “It was a big loss for the Aztec community.”

  • Aztecs’ Brown ready to roll

    Tue, July 27, 2010 by admin with no comments

    San Diego State senior receiver Vincent Brown said Tuesday he has no lingering effects from the thumb injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season.

    “I’m back, 100 percent, ready to go,” Brown said.

    Brown, who was named to the preseason All-Mountain West Conference team, grabbed 45 passes for 778 yards and six touchdowns in the first half of last season.

    A healthy Brown should be part of one of the league’s top passing units. He’ll be joined by receiver DeMarco Sampson (who caught 62 passes for 851 yards and eight touchdowns last season), tight end Alston Umuolo (also a preseason All-MWC selection) and quarterback Ryan Lindley (3,054 passing yards, 23 touchdown passes last season).

    Brown had to sit and watch the Aztecs collapse late last season. They split their first eight games and, at 4-4, were in position to reach a bowl game. Instead, they lost their last four games of the season.

    “The way we finished last year was unacceptable,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said.

  • Jake’s Preseason MWC Ballots

    Tue, July 20, 2010 by admin with 9 comments

    I’ve got only a couple more weeks left on the Air Force beat (more on that in a later post), but I plan to sprint hard toward the finish line.

    So I’ll be with Frank in Vegas next week to play blackja – I mean, provide you with all the information that comes out of the Mountain West Conference media days.

    Along with the commissioner’s State of the Conference address, one of the most anticipated aspects of the media days is the release of the preseason MWC poll and preseason All-MWC squad.

    I submitted my ballots today, which you can find below. As I’ve said in the past, preseason squads are kinda tricky. They’re part reward for past performance and part anticipation of future performance. Some value one more than the other. I try to go 50-50.

    Anyhow, without further ado, here’s what I submitted:

    Preseason MWC Poll
    1. TCU
    2. Utah
    3. Air Force
    4. BYU
    5. Wyoming
    6. San Diego State
    7. Colorado State
    8. UNLV
    9. New Mexico

    Preseason All-MWC
    Offense

    WR – Vincent Brown (San Diego State, Sr.)
    WR – Phillip Payne (UNLV, Jr.)
    OL – Matt Reynolds (BYU, Jr.)
    OL – Marcus Cannon (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah, Sr.)
    OL – Zane Taylor (Utah, Sr.)
    TE – Alston Umuolo (San Diego State, Sr.)
    QB – Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    RB – Eddie Wide (Utah, Sr.)
    RB – Jared Tew (Air Force, Sr.)

    Defense
    DL – Wayne Daniels (TCU, Sr.)
    DL – Dave Kruger (Utah, So.)
    DL – Johnathan Rainey (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    LB – Mychal Sisson (Colorado State, Jr.)
    LB – Carmen Messina (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Brian Hendricks (Wyoming, Jr.)
    DB – Anthony Wright Jr. (Air Force, Jr.)
    DB – Reggie Rembert (Air Force, Sr.)
    DB – Tejay Johnson (TCU, Sr.)
    DB – Andrew Rich (BYU, Sr.)

    Specialists
    P – Brian Stahovich (San Diego State, Jr.)
    K – Ross Evans (TCU, Jr.)
    KR – Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    Special Teams Player of the Year: KR Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    As you can see, I went with three Air Force players on the first team.

    Rembert was a first-team all-conference selection last season, but it could be argued that Wright – who led the Falcons with seven picks – had the better season. I went with both of them, which might be a stretch, but it’s hard to pick one over the other. And I think they’ll form the MWC’s best corner tandem.

    I went with Tew because of how he ended the 2009 season, his potential (I think he can be both a workhorse and a big-play threat) and the fact there aren’t so many obvious standout tailbacks in the league that I thought I needed to select two of them.

    Here are some other Air Force players who could make a push for all-conference honors by the end of the season.

    Strong Contenders:
    -FS Jon Davis. Coaches have always raved about Davis’ potential, and he started to show what he could do last year. Look no further than his ridiculous pick-six against New Mexico (where he weaved through Lobos, absorbed a huge hit at the goal line and still managed to get into the end zone). He might be the best athlete on the team (he played a few basketball games for the prep school a few years ago), he has great instincts and he loves to hit. I predict a breakout year for him in 2010.

    -TB Asher Clark. After struggling in the middle of last season (he gained just 142 yards on 46 carries – 3.1 yards per carry – in games four through eightt), he finished strong (he had 481 on 67 carries – 7.2 yards per carry – and all seven of his touchdowns in the final five games of the campaign. With a healthy knee and the fact he’s not starting the year with thoughts of playing quarterback, he should get off to a better start in 2010.

    K Erik Soderberg. In 2009, his first year as a starter, Soderberg made 38-of-40 extra points and 22-of-30 field goals, including a long of 50 yards, en route to second-team all-league honors. He should be even better this season.

    Other Contenders:
    -G A.J. Wallerstein. If the Falcons’ brand new offensive line comes together and Air Force’s ground game continues to be strong, it likely will have a lot to do with Wallerstein. He got his feet wet in 2008 and last season played considerable snaps as part of a rotation at guard. Big, athletic and very, very smart, he could be a good one for the Falcons.

    -DE Rick Ricketts. He’ll be the leader up front as the Falcons’ lone returning starter on the defensive line. He’s undersized, but he plays with a relentless intensity and has a bit of crazy in him on the field (in a good way). He also always seems to be around the ball and has shown an ability to make plays. Working against him – there are a bunch of quality defensive linemen in the league and Ricketts isn’t a big name in the league heading into the season.

    -OLB Andre Morris Jr. Morris has talent, size and experience. This could be the year he puts it all together and goes from good to great.

    Keep an Eye on:
    -TE Chaz Demerath. Made just five catches for 25 yards last season, and Air Force tight ends had just 11 catches total. But I feel like the tight end will become a bigger part of the offense. It has to, right? And having a more experienced quarterback delivering the ball should help. Demerath’s an athletic kid and there aren’t a whole lot of touted tight ends in the MWC.

    -WR-Z/Ret Jonathan Warzeka. Showed his ability as a returner with the kickoff return for a touchdown in the Armed Forces Bowl. Always has had potential. Now that he’s a junior, he should make a substantial leap.

    -WR-Z Kyle Halderman. Missed more than half of last season with a broken collarbone. But he showed big-play potential as a sophomore.

    -All the LBs coming off injury. Among them are senior inside linebacker Ken Lamendola, senior outside linebacker Pat Hennessey and sophomore outside linebacker Alex Means. All could have big seasons … if they’re healthy.

    Long Shots:
    -WR-X Kevin Fogler. A long shot because Fogler won’t get the opportunity to catch nearly as many passes as the talented receivers at San Diego State, BYU and UNLV. But he’s become a bona fide big-play receiver. Last season he grabbed 25 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns.

    -QB Tim Jefferson. So many good QBs in the league this year. And Jefferson probably won’t have the stats. But if he runs like he did as a freshman and passes like he did in the Armed Forces Bowl, he could force his way into contention.

    -NG Ryan Gardner. Coaches gave him high marks for his work during spring practices attempting to fill the shoes of Ben Garland.

    With that, I want to hear what readers think. Who should have been on the first team that I left off my ballot? Which Air Force players do you think will make their way onto all-conference? What do you think of the preseason poll? Is Air Force too high, too low or just about right?

  • First Look: San Diego State

    Tue, May 25, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    This is Part 7 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We move this week to the Falcons’ Week 7 opponent – San Diego State.

    Here are links to the First Looks at the Falcons’ opponents in the first half of the season: Northwestern State, BYU, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Navy and Colorado State.

    San Diego State
    Coach:
    Brady Hoke (2nd year)
    2009 Record: 4-8 (2-6, 7th in Mountain West Conference)
    2009 vs. AF: Air Force 26, San Diego State 14
    2009 in a Sentence: The Aztecs started 4-4 under Hoke – sparking thoughts of a trip to a bowl game – but lost their last four games.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 9/8
    Roster Report: The Aztecs could boast one of the top passing attacks in the MWC in 2010.

    San Diego State returns quarterback Ryan Lindley along with two receivers who are among the league’s best – DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown.

    As a sophomore last season, Lindley completed 239-of-437 passes (54.7 percent) for 3,054 yards, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Sampson made 62 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, while Brown grabbed 45 passes for 778 yards and six touchdowns. And Brown’s numbers were compiled all in the first half of the season, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Aztecs’ seventh game.

    “Having Vince back and DeMarco, how he came on at the end of last year, is a big plus for us,” Hoke said. “I think that will help us offensively getting the ball down the field a little more and trying to stretch defenses.”

    Defensively, the Aztecs have all three of last year’s starting defensive linemen back, including 6-foot-3, 285-pound Ernie Lawson, who has been moved from tackle to left end.

    “With what we do, we thought the move of Ernie over to the left end makes us a little more stout,” Hoke said. “I think he also is a guy who has the quickness you want in your ends. And then I think the development of Jerome Long (6-5, 290), playing inside as a tackle, and getting Neil Spencer (6-2, 285) back was even more of a luxury for us to move Ernie. But I think it’s really helped us defensively throughout the spring.”

    San Diego State also will add defensive lineman Perry Jackson (6-2, 245), a transfer from Sierra College, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered last year. “I think we’ll have a full recovery by him,” Hoke said.

    Andrew Preston, a 6-1, 215-pound senior from Centennial (Arapahoe High), was moved from linebacker to San Diego State’s “Aztec” position (a kind of linebacker/defensive back hybrid spot).

    A key for the defense, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, is playing man-to-man coverage more effectively so defensive coordinator Rocky Long’s defense can employ more blitzes. It seems the Aztecs will have a better secondary this season.

    “We really believe that we’ve got some young guys who redshirted a year ago – that we got close to playing, believe me – but we thought they needed a good fall academically and a fall within the program,” Hoke said. “But I thought in the spring, I think Nat Berhe and Gabe Lemon did a nice job, Marcus Andrews, Colin Lockett (all four are redshirt freshmen).

    “I thought (6-3, 200-pound sophomore) Eric Pinkins and (5-11, 195-pound sophomore) Khalid Stevens all have the demeanor we’re looking for from our safeties and the athleticism. So I think that’s helped us.”

    The Union-Tribune reported that defenses dominated in San Diego State’s annual Red and Black scrimmage, combining for eight sacks and 26 tackles for losses.

    Fast Fact: San Diego State ranked 116th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams last season in rushing (78.3 yards per game). That has to change for the Aztecs to be a factor in the MWC.

    “As soon as we start running the football better, we’re going to start playing better and we’re going to start winning games,” San Diego State offensive coordinator Al Borges told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “A lot of things change in every area when you run the ball better. We were so dependent on throwing the ball last year it killed us, particularly in crucial situations.”

    What Caught My Eye: San Diego State held spring practices almost as early as Air Force. The Aztecs opened drills on Feb. 20 (two days after the Falcons) and finished on March 20. The other seven MWC schools didn’t start spring drills until March and didn’t finish until April.

    Why did the Aztecs go so early? Well, it gave coaches more time to concentrate on spring recruiting, and it gave players a chance to concentrate on academics. It also meant – as Air Force coach Troy Calhoun has said – that if a player got injured, he had more time to get healthy before fall camp. But seemingly most importantly, the early dates for spring practice gave the Aztecs more time in the weight room prior to the summer.

    “It’s allowed us to have a good six weeks of our kids after spring ball in the various things we’re trying to get done, strength-wise,” Hoke said. “I think we’re making some improvements there in the weight room, but we’re still not a strong football team. But that’s one of the things that we really need to keep focusing on is our development physically.”

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Air Force minus-10. The Falcons have had little trouble with San Diego State under Calhoun, beating the Aztecs by scores of 55-23, 35-10 and 26-14. No reason Air Force should not be a significant favorite.

    Final Thought: San Diego State, to me, is the sleeping giant of the MWC. The Aztecs seemingly always have the athletes. But that hasn’t translated to victories in a while.

    Hoke seems like the kind of no-nonsense coach who could find a way to make the Aztecs meet their potential. We’ll see if he can do it.

  • BYU Survives, Ends Streak

    Thu, March 18, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Mountain West Conference wanted to earn some respect in the NCAA Tournament this year.

    BYU got the league off to a good start.

    Barely.

    The Cougars beat Florida, 99-92, in double overtime. The Gators had the final possession of regulation and the first overtime but could not hit a game-winner. BYU’s victory ended a seven-game losing streak in the first round of the tournament.

    San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico all still play today.

  • Air Force Mostly Absent from All-MWC

    Mon, March 8, 2010 by admin with no comments

    For the second season in a row, Air Force was the only program in the nine-team Mountain West Conference not to have a player make first-, second- or third-team All-MWC.

    Evan Washington was the only Falcon to earn any recognition. The junior guard, who ranked second in the league in minutes per game (33.9) and averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 4.7 rebounds this season, was an honorable mention selection.

    The league’s coaches and selected members of the media vote for the teams and submit ballots with 15 players (five on each team).

    Prior to last season, Air Force had placed at least one player on the first, second or third teams for seven consecutive seasons.

    First Team
    G Jimmer Fredette (BYU, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G/F Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Second Team
    G Ronnie Moss (TCU, Soph.)
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    F Andy Ogide (Colorado State, Jr.)
    F Roman Martinez (New Mexico, Sr.)
    F Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State, Jr.)

    Third Team
    G Tyler Haws (BYU, Fr.)
    G Desmar Jackson (Wyoming, Fr.)
    G Carlon Brown (Utah, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, So.)
    G/F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Honorable Mention
    Jr. G Evan Washington (Air Force), So. G Phillip McDonald (New Mexico), Jr. G D.J. Gay (San Diego State), Jr. F Billy White (San Diego State), Sr. F/C Zvonko Buljan (TCU), So. G Oscar Bellfield (UNLV), Sr. G Luka Drca (Utah), Fr. G Marshall Henderson (Utah).

    All-Defensive Team
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, Soph.)
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Player of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Defensive Player of the Year
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Freshman of the Year
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Newcomer of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Sixth Man of the Year
    F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Coach of the Year
    Steve Alford (New Mexico)

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, March 7, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force finished its Mountain West Conference regular season slate with a 61-42 loss to San Diego State last night. It was the third gloomy Senior Night in the last four years.

    San Diego State kept alive its hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Here’s The San Diego Union-Tribune’s game story.

    Also, if you haven’t seen them already, I put in a couple football-related posts below.

  • San Diego State 61, Air Force 42 – Rapid Reaction

    Sun, March 7, 2010 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force set a season low for points in a half tonight with 14 in the first 20 minutes.

    The Falcons also set a new low for points in a game this season with 42.

    So I guess you could say that the Falcons saved their worst for last.

    But, unfortunately, a 19-point home loss on senior night isn’t even close to the worst that’s happened this season.

    The good news, of course, is that there’s still the Mountain West Conference tournament. Air Force got a feel-good victory in the play-in game of last year’s tournament, and maybe it can do the same this year.

    There’s no reason to get too in depth with this game because it was much like many of the 14 other losses in league play – poor shooting (18-of-46), especially from 3-point range (4-of-18); prolonged scoring droughts; a significant deficit on the glass (San Diego State out-rebounded Air Force, 30-21).

    And since it’s senior night, there’s no reason to go through all the dismal numbers of the last two seasons. So I’ll say this instead:

    Air Force’s seniors have shown a lot of class in what has been a tough situation. They started their careers in a season when the Falcons reached dizzying heights (No. 11 in the coaches’ Top 25). And they’re finishing it with a second consecutive last-place finish in the league. But, like I said, they’ve handled it with class.

    “It’s the fifth-winningest class in the history of Air Force basketball,” coach Jeff Reynolds said. “They’ve had some struggles here of late, but they’ve battled, they’ve played extremely hard, they’ve been very coachable. They’re outstanding young men, and they’ll be great officers in the Air Force.”

  • Saturday Morning Links

    Sat, March 6, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team ends an incredibly disappointing season tonight when it faces San Diego State at Clune Arena (here are 3 Things to Watch in the game).

    Hey, remember at this time last year when all we heard about was how the freshmen were going to lead Air Force out of the cellar? Yeah. Didn’t work out too well. The Class of 2012 was pretty well jinxed. Read about it here.

    Also, check out the San Diego Union-Tribune’s feature story on Aztecs forward Billy White.

  • Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, March 4, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    Air Force sophomore Asher Clark leads a talented group of tailbacks that could allow the Falcons to operate in 2010 like they did in 2007 – when several different tailbacks had 100-plus-yard rushing games.

    Moving to hoops, Air Force faces San Diego State on Saturday in both teams’ regular season finales. The Aztecs, squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, can’t afford a slip. And they didn’t make one last night, beating Colorado State, 68-55.